Jumping from College to Career: Advice from 4 Students on Landing That First Job
By Ashleigh Brown,
So, you’re finally finished with courses. It’s the end of your last class during your last semester as an undergraduate. You completed all your classes, earned the eligible 120 credits and have your degree in hand walking across that stage. You sent multiple resumes and cover letters out to potential employers, interviewed with some companies, and landed your first job out of college. You are excited about entering the job market and finally being an independent and educated college graduate using your degree. But unfortunately, that luck doesn’t come to everyone — especially during an international pandemic.
According to a 2020 study by InsideHigherEd.com, 41% of recent college graduates are underemployed in their field, meaning that they are working in jobs that don’t require a college degree or not in their respective fields. In December of 2019, individuals ages 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher was at 3.9%.
Although finding a job right after college may be difficult, it does happen for some college graduates and will eventually happen for others. Hear from four college graduates about their recent experiences job hunting and some advice they learned along the way:
Nyomi Gibson, 22, St. John’s University
Nyomi was one of the lucky ones that dove right into her career following graduation. “My transition has been smooth,” said Gibson. “After coming out of college, I already had a job waiting for me because I had made a prior connection.” After SJU, Gibson became a patient care assistant at StatCare Urgent Care & Medical Walk-In and believes her school prepared her to the fullest to find a job after graduation. “The best career advice I can give is to network,” Gibson said. “You never know who you will encounter than can help you in the next step of your career.”
Chad Barker, 25, SUNY Albany
As a physical therapist aide, Chad felt that even though he eventually went into his field, the journey getting there wasn’t easy. “It’s been a little difficult post-college. No one ever knows how difficult it is transitioning to the ‘real world’ after,” he said. “I think the hardest part is finding a job or career directly out of college that is helpful to your dream job, and many times people end up taking jobs that are much lower than their degree because they need a source of income.”
He believes that while graduating and starting your first job are great achievements, the transition from collegiate life to a working professional is a large one. The etiquette and norms in the working world are much more different than in the halls and classrooms of our academic buildings.
Calvin Aristide, 25, New York Institute of Technology
Calvin says his transition wasn’t an easy one. “Transition was a bit rough, going from interview to interview, meeting with multiple alumni from various decades and still not being able to land a job was frustrating,” he said. “Knowing that NYIT was a nationally accredited school ranked top 5 in the country for architecture gave me the confidence that I’d be able to network and have a solid job after graduating, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me — especially during the times we’re in right now.” Calvin’s career advice for everyone would be to always have a plan B, just in case your first option doesn’t work out the way you want it to.
Chantel Archer, 25, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Chantel Archer, who studied Television & Radio, says even though her school’s career center helped students put together a resume and professional portfolio, she ended up finding two internships on her own. Her only issue was finding internships that fit her love for makeup and beauty, while also combining what she learned during her studies. “Make sure you have at least one internship under your belt in your field,” she said. “Some places will have you doing things that have nothing to do with your field, but make sure you’re gaining substantial experience to carry with you to your next job or build on your own brand.” Chantel says her best career advice would be to find an internship where you’re actually learning and absorbing the knowledge you need for what you really want to do.